Stretch the truth: Exaggerated heights of college basketball players

As kids they mark us against a door jamb, or on a piece of poster-board at school. We stand straight. We will ourselves to be taller. They put a mark with a pencil and we marvel at how we’re not quite as tall as we thought.

But some of us get taller than others. And of that subset of tall kids, some can ball. These become college basketball players. When they arrive at their universities as freshman, they’re measured, and then these heights are reported are looked at by the coaches who then say, “aw, fuck it, 6-9 sounds better than 6-7.”

It’s one of the mysterious unwritten rules: lie about player’s heights.

It’s also a confusing unwritten rule. What’s the point? NBA scouts don’t believe heights until they measure them themselves. Is it for the fans? For the opposing teams? Are opposing teams supposed to be intimidated by what’s on paper? If anything, it seems colleges should under-report heights. Then when opposing teams took the court they would at least realize that the guy they’re guarding is bigger than they thought he was.

Lying about height makes no sense. But everyone does it.

Luckily, this week we had the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. A bunch of borderline NBA prospects played a three-day tournament in front of scouts, hoping to move into the draft. And the first thing they did when they arrived at the site was to be measured. So now we know their actual heights.

So which schools exaggerate the most? Of the 62 measured players, 76% were reported to be at least an inch taller than they actually are. 11% were at least two inches shorter than listed. One (Georgetown’s Henry Sims was exactly what the school said he was, and one (Reggie Hamilton of Oakland) was actually taller. Here’s the list, sorted by amount of exaggeration: